Many livestock judges, at some point during Showmanship or the Grand Drive, will often look at the fresh faces of the stock show kids in and around the ring and deliver a similar message: Thank your parents. Thank your grandparents. Thank your breeder, advisor, or agent. Thank whoever it is that got you to this point. The ones that help make it possible for you to be a stock show kid.
I love that. I love judges taking time to ask youth to recognize how blessed they are to be stock show kids. To value the time, effort, and money it takes the grown-ups in their lives. I don’t know how many kids have actually come out of the ring said the words, “Thank You” but as the judge talks they nod and look over at their supporters. The gratefulness is in their smiles, in the high-fives and hugs when they’ve reached a goal, when they’re standing in front of the backdrop or are the last to bid. Gratefulness in the bond they share with their animals. Stock show kids appreciate their moms and dads, their grandparents and the village of folks who are on the ride with them.
Youth development experts say we should model good behavior. So, if we want kids to express their thanks, maybe we should tell them how grateful we are too. Grateful that our kids love the stock show life.
An open thank you letter to stock show kids everywhere from a stock show parent:
Dear Stock Show Kid,
You’re welcome. For everything it takes for us to be a stock show family. You’re welcome.
I want to thank you too.
Thank you for loving what we love. Before you were born we talked late into the night designing a show barn that didn’t exist yet, setting up a breeding program, and wondering if our future daughter would wear bling. You made those late-night talks come to life the first time you stepped in the show ring. You beamed an excited smile and we breathed a sigh of relief. You were a stock show kid.
Thank you for finding friends in those other stock show kids. Their parents are the ones we grew up with showing livestock. Life had taken many of us in different directions but the stock show life, again, brought us together. All the weekends we spend in barns have led us to old friends, new friends, real friends. Folks who value what we value. Thank you for reminding us that stock show buddies are some of the truest, wildest, very best friends one can have.
Thank you for the long days and late nights in the barn. Scrolling social media, we see pictures of other families at the beach, in amusement parks, on hikes, and at pool parties. Work in the barn and weekends at shows means we don’t get to do those kinds of things very often. Thank you for understanding that beginning and ending our days in the barn as a stock show family is just as natural to us as breathing. Thank you for understanding that this year, Junior Nationals IS our family vacation. Thanks for wanting it that way.
Thank you for never asking why our car isn’t newer. Thank you for never questioning why we haven’t purchased the latest gaming system. Thank you for knowing that money spent on livestock, at the Weaver trailer, in entry fees and hotel rooms is money well spent. Money spent to chase banners and dreams – mixed in with hard work, determination and passion – is so much sweeter that having the latest cell phone.
Whether it’s a banner, buckle or 4th in class with the judge acknowledging your animal as “nicely presented,” thanks for letting us be a part of the accolades.
Thank you. Thank you for loving the stock show life. Thank you for the hard work, the effort, the time. Thank you for making us stock show parents of terrific stock show kids!
Kelly and her husband, Chad, raise cattle, sheep and two children in the mountains of southwestern Virginia. Their kids are the 4th generation to grow up on the farm and show livestock. Some of the family’s very best days happen in the show barn. Some of their most contentious days happen there too. Kelly believes that a kid will build life-long friends showing livestock. After all, she is the girl that married the boy she met in the show ring. She loves educating children, especially about agriculture. She believes that even if a kid won’t grow up to work in agriculture the kid still needs to grow up to be a knowledgeable consumer. Oh, and that ranch dressing should be considered a food group.